Recently, there has been a surge of interest in electric vehicles. As these vehicles continue to gain traction and soar in popularity, you may be tempted to invest in one too. However, if you’re new to electric vehicles (EVs), you may be wondering how to deliver power to your EV efficiently and safely.
When you purchase an EV, you’ll want to invest in a home vehicle charging station and a wall connector. While there are a few different types of plugs and outlets on the market, you are bound to encounter two types of plugs: the NEMA 6-50 and the 14-50.
These two plugs are the most popular amongst EV owners. Both plugs have their benefits, and you can’t go wrong with either one. However, the choice between the NEMA 6-50 vs 14-50 depends on your needs and personal preference. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the difference between these two plugs and the use you can get out of each.
What is the Difference Between a NEMA 6-50 and 14-50 Plug?
Recently, the NEMA 14-50 outlet has grown in popularity among homeowners. As suggested by the name, the 14-50 provides up to a maximum of 50 amps of power, which is perfectly and safely suited for charging your EV at home.
Nowadays, the 14-50 is the recommended 50-amp plug, as it is the most versatile option. On the other hand, while the NEMA 6-50 may not be as common as the 14-50, it is starting to gain traction as the more affordable option. In addition, this power cord is also easier to install since it is smaller and more flexible. However, as with the 14-50, 50 is the maximum amperage for the NEMA 6-50 plug. So, what is the biggest difference between the two plugs?
The difference between a NEMA 6-50 and a 14-50 can be seen if you look at both plugs side-by-side. You’ll notice that the 6-50 is lacking a neutral wire. The neutral is the fourth hole at the bottom just under the “hots.”
So, the difference between the NEMA 6-50 and the 14-50 is that the 6-50 has no neutral; it only has the two hots and the ground.
By contrast, the 14-50 comes with a neutral. This means that the 14-50 has four holes while the 6-50 only has three. In summary, the NEMA 14-50 outlet has two hots, a ground, and a neutral, whereas the 6-50 only has two hots and a ground.
The Plug vs. The EV Charging Connector
Before we delve into what the NEMA 6-50 and 14-50 are each used for, we should note the difference between the plug and the EV charging connector.
The plug connects into your outlet in the wall, while the EV charging connector plugs into your vehicle.
A home EV charging station interfaces between the electricity flowing through your house and an EV’s battery management and charging system. It needs to be either hardwired or plugged in using a heavy-duty outlet like the one you would use for dryers or ovens.
240 volts is the recommended voltage for an EV’s electric supply. Amperage (the unit of measurement for current) is also important. Today’s most common plug-in home EV charging set-up uses a 50 amp, 240-volt outlet to power an electric vehicle safely.
What is a NEMA 14-50 Outlet Used For?
The NEMA 14-50 is a 240-volt 50-amp socket. In addition, a 24-volt dedicated circuit installed for higher-power devices can be wired as a 14-50 line. These high-power devices include electric stoves and welders. The 14-50 is also used for RVs and mobile homes.
The NEMA 14-50 standard socket is commonly used for charging electric vehicles. With the correct EV charger, it can be used to completely recharge a modern EV battery in fewer than 8 hours.
14-50 NEMA chargers are pluggable devices that plug into an outlet. As mentioned before, the NEMA 14-50 standard specifies a maximum current of 50 amps. However, only 80% of that maximum power is allowed for continuous use. In other words, plugging in any charger will not produce more than 40A for an EV.
The CircleCord UL is rated up to 50 Amp and has 25 feet of cable to reach from your charging station to your EV. The heavy-duty 6/3+8/1 gauge STW wire with cord organizer and storage bag makes the CircleCord a quality charging extension cord for EV owners.
What is a 6-50 Plug Used For?
Like the NEMA 14-50, the 6-50 plug is used for appliances that require a higher level of power, such as stoves and dryers. In addition, this plug is still used for compressors, electric ovens, and generators; it is also now routinely used for EV chargers.
The NEMA 6-50 EV charger is one of the most powerful portable plug-in EV chargers on the market. It is even used by Tesla (although an adapter is needed). This plug fits all other electric vehicles as well. The 6-50 will charge your vehicle at 9.6kw/hr providing 30-35 miles of range per hour of charging. This is the fastest available plug-in residential charger.
A heavy-duty extension cable is rated up to 50 Amp with 25 feet of cable length to reach from your charging station to your EV. The STW 6AWG/3C stranded wire extension cord is molded with an electroplate copper terminal in order to avoid surface oxidation effectively.
Is it Better to Hardwire or Plug-in an EV Charger?
Hardwired charging stations are high-power, continuous-use devices. If you choose this option, it’s mounted on the wall and includes about three feet of conduit and service wires that extend from it.
These wires connect to the wires in your electrical panel in a junction box. Hardwired units actually offer a larger variety of amperage and charge-speed options than plug-in units.
Hardwiring is also an excellent option for outdoor use because it has been proven resistant in the face of rain, snow, sleet, and ice. However, the downside to this option is that hardwired units are not portable. You’ll need to hire an ev electrician to transport it. Additionally, hardwired charging stations can be more expensive because of the cost of the charger itself, its size, and the more labor-intensive installation.
As the name suggests, plug-in charging stations allow you to insert the plug from your EV supply equipment (EVSE) directly into a 240-volt outlet.
These outlets aren’t rated to let you plug and unplug regularly, so you must always leave the charging station connected. If your home already has a 240-volt outlet, you can get a plug (the NEMA 6-50 or 14-50) that works with it.
With a 240-volt outlet, you can just mount the charging station and start using it. If you don’t have a 240-volt outlet, an electrician can install one that matches your selected plug type. If you want to use a plug-in charging station outdoors, you’ll need a “While-in-Use” weatherproof cover installed over the 240-volt outlet and a GFCI circuit breaker for it.
This is a good option if you need to charge outdoors but don’t want to invest in a hardwired charging station. Overall, plug-in charging stations are less expensive and can be more convenient. However, they provide a lower current and aren’t well-suited for outdoor use.
Deciding between a hardwire or plug-in EV charger really comes down to your personal preference and what will most benefit you. While a hardwired charging station isn’t portable and does cost more, it provides a solid connection and great charging strength. A plug-in charger is much more convenient but has slightly more limited use.
As you can tell by now, there are a variety of decisions to make regarding your EV and your EV charging experience.
When it comes down to choosing NEMA plugs, the 6-50 and 14-50 are both safe, modern, and powerful options that will allow you to charge your EV at home at a much faster rate.
The main deciding factor for most electric vehicle owners comes down to versatility, with the NEMA 14-50 being more commonplace nationwide. Now that you know which type suits your needs you can make an educated purchase via the button below.